A major cause of poor health in the developed world, whether we like it or not, is the Western diet. Research studies all around the globe have shown that people who avoid this type of diet as a general rule also avoid its associated health risks.
In the 1930s, a Canadian dentist Weston A. Price traveled the world in search of isolated groups that survived solely on a native diet. He found that these populations, whether they be in the Arctic or Australia, had no need for dental care. Even though the exact diet differed among these clusters, since they never got exposed to sugar, refined flour, vegetable oils, and food chemicals, they never suffered tooth decay or any chronic diseases.
In addition, other studies have reported that when people change their ways and stop consuming the Western diet, their general health improves significantly.
Let’s discuss nutrition researcher Kerin O’Dea’s work as an instance. In the 1980s, O’Dea performed a novel and pathbreaking research study on the marked beneficial health impact of temporary reversion to traditional hunter-gatherer lifestyle on diabetes and associated conditions in Australian Aborigines.
In the experiment, she asked ten Aborigines, who had migrated several years prior to settlements in Australia and consequently adopted a Western diet, to return to their native territories for seven weeks. In their stay in the settlements, these ten subjects had developed type 2 diabetes, elevated levels of triglycerides (which can lead to heart problems), as well as increased risks of obesity, hypertension (high blood pressure), and cardiovascular disease. But during their time back on their native lands, the men switched back to their old diet: mostly seafood, birds, and kangaroo, along with bush honey, turtle, and crocodile on a few occasions. By the time this study and their stay concluded, all ten people had reached a healthy weight and significantly lowered both their blood pressure as well as risk factors associated with type 2 diabetes. O’Dea’s fascinating research thus ignited an interest in the therapeutic potential of traditional diets and lifestyles.
These studies (along with several others) show us that a change in diet, rather than nutrients, is instrumental in lowering the risks of certain physiological diseases and disorders.